Monday, February 15, 2010

Blood on the Mountain Part 5

Title: Blood on the Mountain
Author: Ranger


The city centre was packed with people doing early Christmas shopping, and it was barely possible to move down New Street . Eventually Stuart grabbed Adam's hand, towed him onto the nearest 62 bus and they fought their way upstairs where seats were still left. Adam dropped into a seat and glared at the crowds in the street below.
"Next time you want to do this-"
"We come earlier in the morning, I know." Stuart gave him a second, more acute look and reached in the pocket of his jacket, pulling out a couple of biscuits.  
"Come on. That should tide you over until lunchtime."
Adam glanced over and his scowl deepened rapidly. "I can wait."  
"Either you eat it, now, or we forget doing anything but go home," Stuart said firmly. "You don't say 'no' to me."
"I didn't!"
"Adam," Stuart warned.
Adam cast a rapid look around the bus and lowered his voice. "I DON'T need the mother hen act, and I'm NOT hungry."
"Whether you're hungry or not, eat them. Your blood sugar needs to stay level."
"No," Adam said sharply.
Stuart hooked an arm through his and pulled him closer, stopping his hunch away.
"We are supposed to be trying to keep you away from any triggers to fits. You're vulnerable at the moment, there is no room for taking chances-"
"Could you MAKE any more of a scene about this?" Adam hissed, scarlet. Stuart sighed, not unsympathetic, but determined Adam wasn't going to fend him off.
"Adam, this is the last time I'll ask. Please eat those biscuits, both of them, now. And without any more arguing."
Adam leaned over and posted the biscuits into the rubbish bin riveted to the bus bulkhead, then sat back and folded his arms.
"Okay." Stuart said levelly, "Your decision."


Why is it I can only do anything with you by making you cry?
Stuart stroked Adam's hair, cradling him without trying to break the stranglehold Adam had around his waist. Adam's face was hidden, buried in his stomach, curled tightly up on his side on the sofa. D592 had put it succinctly- black and white- no grey. The line was the barrier between the two extremes. That appeared to apply to Adam too- there appeared to be Adam only furious and difficult, and Adam quiescent and clinging. Maybe the greys would come later, when they had them mapped and understood. In the meantime, this seemed extreme to him- frustrating that Adam gave him no choice, would push and push without stopping until Stuart spanked him. Which as last few times had reduced him quickly to tears. Adam seemed to have got out of bed the last two or three mornings, looking for his first opportunity for provocation.
It did, however, seem to keep him too busy to mind about being off work. And so far, he'd had no more fits.
Stuart ruffled the black hair under his hand, cupped his palm under Adam's cheek and with difficulty turned Adam's face up to his.
"Did we really just have to do all that over eating two little biscuits?"
"I'm sorry."
Red, swollen eyes met his for a second with an open honesty that was nearly alarming. It was as if emotionally he was either behind a gate, with no way past, or the gate was wide open with no barriers or defenses whatsoever.
"Don't be sorry," Stuart told him gently. "That's over with. I want to know what made you so angry in the first place."
"I don't know." Adam tried to twist away and curl back against him. Stuart held on.
"That's not good enough."
"I don't KNOW." Adam pulled his head out of Stuart's hand, and yelped as Stuart swatted him sharply where he was already sore.
Adam caught his hand before it could swat again, eyes appealing. Stuart let him hold on, but waited. Adam lay back, curling against him.
"I don't NEED to eat all the time. I wasn't even hungry."
"You know why I wanted you to eat."
"You might as well hang a sign on me."
"Adam." Stuart leaned his head back against the sofa, deeply sympathetic. "People are going to notice it a lot more if you have a fit."
Adam turned his face deeper into Stuart's midriff and declined to answer that. Stuart peeled him away, face and voice gentle, but he was learning the tone that Adam listened to. The calm, steady, matter of fact voice with level eye contact.
"I'm going to carry food with us when we go out, and you're going to eat when I tell you, without making a fuss about it. You're not going to have one single seizure that we can avoid. And food or not, you don't say no to me. Got it?"
"It DOESN'T have to be a problem!" Adam pleaded. Stuart shook his head.
"Got it?"
"What about if you ask me if I want a coffee and I don't? Or can I see your car keys anywhere? You want me to lie?"
Stuart swatted the nearest hip, close to smiling. "You want to discuss contexts, or do you understand me?"
Adam subsided back into his lap.

From: Mitchell@N...
To: S.Hutt.@V... 
Subject: Hello
Apologies for the unsolicited mail- my partner asked me to contact you. D592- I believe you've been chatting to him on the DD1 list? I have no wish at all to interfere, but my partner said you were in the traumatic stages and might find a sympathetic ear useful. If not, please feel free to ignore this mail.
We've been together for nearly five years, and in a discipline relationship from more or less the beginning. I came into the relationship with some experience but believe me, the early stages aren't easy for anyone. I seem to remember spending the first month ticking between wanting to wring my partner's neck and wondering what on earth it was I was trying to do in the first place. Things do however settle down in time, and once they do, the benefits start to become apparent. I live with a man who I know wouldn't find it easy to be happy or settled or even that safe without the structure we keep on a day to day basis, quite apart from the fact we'd never find the kitchen for the washing up, or have any clean clothes in the house. At the end of the day this is always people driven, not system driven.
If I can help at all, as someone to let off steam to, or just to chat, please feel free to contact me.
Best wishes,  
From: S.Hutt@V...
To: Mitchell@N...
Subject: Re: Hello
Thankyou for your mail. Your partner was a great help to me in offering straightforward and extremely practical advice, which I've been struggling to follow ever since. We've been together seven months and trying to start a discipline relationship for almost a month, with varying success. At the moment either we seemed to be locked in combat or Adam in tears, with no stages in between.
The whole situation has been complicated by my partner being unwell at the moment, which affects his moods and his confidence. He isn't able to work at the moment which he finds very frustrating, and which I really can't blame him for. I've got a very small range of strategies I can use at the moment which give me the feeling that I have a handle on the situation and things go well, but I get out of my depth very fast. In some ways I keep feeling I'm using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, when there have to be simpler, less extreme ways to rein things in.
If you have any advice or experience you can offer I would be more than grateful. With Adam this fragile at the moment it seems less than fair he has to put up with my mistakes while I try to learn.  
Thanks again,

He heard Adam swear from the bathroom and opened the door to listen, then walked out, half dressed, looking for him.
Adam was standing in the kitchen, scowling at the phone. As Stuart came in he slammed it back in its cradle and ran his hands through his hair, face twisted with exasperation. Stuart put out his hands and pulled his down.
Adam dropped his hands with a huff of exasperation.  
"I can't remember Sara's damn phone number."
"You must have it written somewhere."
"That's not the point!" Adam gave the phone a poisonous glare and stalked towards the lounge, shoving his hair back out of his eyes with unnecessary violence. "I can't remember a damn thing at the moment-"
"What else can't you remember?" Stuart said quietly, following him. Adam shrugged.
"Oh I don't know. Things. Like yesterday, I kept putting things down and then losing them."
"We all do that."

"Hey," Stuart said firmly. Adam gave him a grim look and turned his back to stare out of the window. Stuart came to stand next to him, not trying to touch him.
"It's the bloody drugs." Adam said without looking "He said there wouldn't be any side effects."
"It's bound to take awhile to get used to them."
"I'd be better without the damn stuff."
Something told Stuart it was wiser not to open a discussion on that point.
"What are you going to do today?" he said lightly, intending to distract. Adam glanced sideways at him.
"Try to remember my own sister's number."
"And then?"
Adam shrugged. Stuart put a hand on his back and rubbed.
"You're okay. I'll ring at lunchtime."
"I'll be fine," Adam said sharply.
"Yes, but I like talking to you." Stuart put an arm around his stiff shoulders and gave him a hug. "Ring earlier if you get fed up."
"I'm fed up now," Adam said bitterly. Stuart sighed.
"I know. You're frustrated, you're bored, I do understand, love. But you're stuck with this until the medication settles down, and you're going to have to spend this time at home whether you enjoy it or whether you spend it stropping. So you might as well work on enjoying it."
Adam didn't answer. Stuart kissed his forehead.
"I'll talk to you at lunchtime."
Adam listened until he heard the front door shut, then threw himself down in the nearest armchair and glared at what he could see of the sky through the window.

He became aware in stages that he was surrounded by people. Most of them passed by, not looking or speaking, but one or two gave him looks that made him uncomfortable, as though something was wrong that he ought be aware of. He paused to cover his confusion and found himself looking in a dark glass window. With an effort of vision he made his eyes look through rather than at the glass, and found himself surveying two dummies modelling women's clothing. He moved on. Gradually he realised that the buildings on either side of him were shops. They came one after another, in a line. The walkway ahead began to make sense as a pavement and he became aware of the road beside it, blinking at the speed the traffic was travelling. Shivering, he stood still again and stared at it. His hair was wet and dripping in his face, which made him realise his clothes were damp, and that it was raining. He looked around him, and for the first time wondered where the hell he was. The landscape around him was totally unfamiliar.
"Are you all right, mate?" a man asked beside him. His face appeared to be badly put together, as though he was a set of separate features instead of a coherent body. When he tried to touch, Adam moved away from him and at a loss for what else to do, continued to walk.
Somewhere under a post with a picture of a bus on it, a woman in early middle age put out a hand and turned him around. Then spoke in a voice that was far easier to process than the babble around him.
"Hello, love. Do you know where you are?"
Adam looked at her blankly. She moved him backwards under the shelter of the glass, until his legs touched a bench and he sat down. The woman sat down beside him.
"What's your name?"
Adam gave it some thought as a rational question, and realised he had absolutely no idea. As if that was a cue, he was abruptly swept with total terror, leaving him shaking and struggling with the effort not to burst into tears. This was ridiculous. People had names. He had to have a name.
The woman peered at him without curiosity. People around them, realising something different was going on, were beginning to pay attention and offer advice, much of which was conflicting. The woman took no notice whatsoever.
"What do you know?" she asked simply. "There must be something."
No, just a black void. Adam raked his head with more and more desperation, battering at the headache there. The only thing on his mind at all was a set of digits. Which meant nothing.
"0874 355296." He said to the woman. She said nothing, just took out a mobile phone and held it out to him. Adam accepted it, confused.
"Is that a phone number?"
"I think so."
With no other ideas to hand, Adam dialed the number and listened, with no idea of who he was calling. The voice who answered the phone was completely unfamiliar. It was a woman, that was all Adam knew in response to her,
"I -" Adam broke off and glanced at the woman beside him. She gently took the phone.
"Hello? I have a young man here, about 5.9, dark, mid-twenties- yes. Yes, I'll stay with him, he isn't hurt. It's the bus stop outside WHSmith, Boar lane. All right."
She shut the phone down and smiled reassuringly at Adam.
"It's all right. There'll be someone here soon to get you."
"Who?" Adam said, trying to summon up some interest. The woman shook her head.
"I don't know, love, but they knew you."
A car pulled up about ten minutes later and disgorged a large, sandy-haired man who came towards them, hands held out.
"Adam? Are you all right? Ad?"
Adam looked at him blankly. The man put an arm around his shoulders and rubbed, comfortingly.
"It's okay. Let's get you home."
That seemed as good an idea as any. Maybe Stuart would be there.
The man talked to the woman without a word of it making sense. Adam got into the car where he was put and leaned his head against the window, letting the fog in his head swallow him up again. He didn't really notice much else until the front door open and he slipped out from under Stuart's arm to make a mug of tea. Buried in that, it dawned on him exactly who Stuart was.


Sara appeared while they were on the second mug of tea. Adam put his mug down, seeing nothing for a minute but her red eyes and the panic in her face. He was halfway towards her, arms held out, when she grabbed him.
"Do you know how long we've been looking for you?"
"Don't ask me, girl, I had no idea where I was either. I've never been so scared in my life." Adam collapsed onto the sofa, pulling her down with him. Sara hooked an arm around his neck and kissed him hard enough to bruise.
"What the HELL are they medicating you with at the moment?"

"You know what, it's in mid-change."
"It isn't safe for you to be doing that. You know where you might have wandered to? There's no WAY you ought to be here on your own in the day-"
"This never happened before."
"It has a few times," Adam pointed out.
"Never like this." Sara wiped her eyes and sat back. Adam glanced up and realised from Stuart's blank expression that the entire conversation had been in Welsh. It took him several deliberate attempts before any English words whatsoever came into his head.
"He can't be at home alone like this," Sara said sharply, glaring at Stuart.
"You're right." Stuart carried Adam's mug of tea across. "Sara do you want a drink?"
"How can you talk about drinks?" Sara pushed her hair out of her eyes and hunched to sit on the edge of the sofa, with the exact scowl Adam had when on the brink of losing his temper. "You walked off and left him this morning, you must have seen the state he was in-"
"I wasn't then-" Adam glanced at his watch and blinked. It was nearly five pm. "I don't even know what time I went out."
"I rang at twelve and you weren't here then," Stuart said quietly. "I phoned around friends, phoned Sara, tried Grania- no one knew anything about where you were. Sara came to help look for you, she had an idea of what had happened. All we could think of to do was drive around the local area and hope you hadn't gone far. Until you phoned my mother, we had no idea where you were."
"I phoned your mother?" Adam said, startled. Stuart nodded. Adam whistled.
"Wonder why on earth it was her number I remembered?"
"You were wandering around semi-conscious, never mind who you called. This has happened a few times," Sara said grimly. Adam gave her a nudge.
"Only twice." In answer to Stuart's raised eyebrows he went on, "Once was at school- I wandered off halfway through breaktime. Sara came after me."
"He was walking, eyes open, but I couldn't get him to talk to me and he wouldn't let me touch him. I just had to follow until he woke up a few minutes later." Sara gave her brother a glare. "The other time was at home and there were enough people around to keep him safe until he came round. This is what I've been saying all along, you can't be left alone all day."
"No, you're right," Stuart said matter-of-factly. "I'm going to take a few weeks leave from work until this is sorted."
"You don't have to do that," Adam said, glancing up, not without appreciation. Stuart smiled faintly at him. Sara shook her head.
"You ought to be at home."
"What, Ianto and Bryn are going to drop everything?"
"There's enough of them in that house to make sure you're safe."
"It's my problem and Stuart's."
"Of course it's their problem!" Sara said angrily. "If you're worried about them I'll come with you, Stephen can hold the fort and I'll look after you-"
"I don't need looking after." Adam drained his tea and got up. "Do you want a drink or not girl?"
"Be sensible, will you?"
"Stu and I can handle it," Adam said more shortly. Sara's eyes followed him, the same cat green as Adam's.
"If Ianto knew about this-"
"If you tell him I'll do you." Adam retorted. "I'll ring the consultant-"
"I'm way ahead of you," Stuart said calmly. "He said this is excess electrical activity in the brain- partial seizures rather than the full blown tonic-clonics. We need to give it a few weeks for the medication to settle and take effect."
"And what in the meantime?" Sara demanded.
Stuart shrugged. "More or less as you said. Don't leave him alone. If he has one again, stay with him, guide him away from danger and wait for him to come round."
 "And that's it?"
Adam rolled his eyes and said something in Welsh. The reply was fast and in the same language, Adam snapped back and Sara walked out of the flat, letting the door shut behind her. Stuart thought briefly about introducing Stephen to the DD1 website, then sat down beside Adam.
"How do you feel now?"
"Fine," Adam said lightly. "Tired, but fine. I'm sorry you got an earful from Her.. Spitfire, Bryn calls her."
"We're talking about her little brother, she isn't going to be too rational," Stuart said gently. Adam smiled.
"The other two are quite normal. Honestly. If we go up there at Christmas I swear neither of them foam at the mouth or scream a lot."
"I'd like to meet them." Stuart touched Adam's face and got up. "Why don't you lie down? You look shattered."
He was halfway through the ring-around to reassure the vast number of friends and relatives he'd panicked with phonecalls earlier in the day, when he heard the unmistakeable half shout, half cry. He dropped the receiver and headed for the lounge, already knowing what he'd find. Adam had fallen off the sofa, and from the spreading blood on the floor had cracked his head firmly on the table leg. Stuart knelt and pulled Adam onto his side, hooking an arm over his chest to hold him there and tipping his head back. This was a bad one: Adam's limbs were moving, the convulsions shaking him almost too hard for Stuart to hold. Stuart glanced at his watch and felt Adam's heart thumping fast and hard against his hand.
"It's okay, Adam. You're going to be fine. I've got you. All right, sweetheart."


Bright red light. The chill of the floor under his shoulders and pain so bad he was breathing in gasps.
Stuart's hands on his head, his chest, "You're all right, it's okay."
Adam couldn't move. The pain was making him sick. He retched, feeling bile burn his teeth, tasting blood from his torn lips and tongue. The movement hurt terribly but he hadn't the breath to cry out. Stuart's hand closed over his and gripped through the silent scream. He was trying to sound calm and failing.
"An ambulance is coming. Its okay, sweetheart, you'll be fine. It's just a fit like all the others."
It had never been this bad. Never.
"Head," Adam choked.
Head. Brain damage.
"Darling, you're all right. I swear to you, you're going to be fine."
Brain damage brain damage brain damage
Sirens. Another crushing wave of darkness as paralysis swept him. Again.
He was aware of various horrible moments that happened to him, unsequenced and filled with thrashing, shouting and pain. Various liquids flew about, hands gripped him. There was nothing worse than the sensation of being held down. It terrified him, and the convulsions grew all the harder.
"I'm here, Adam." He heard Stuart said once or twice and was aware of Stuart's hand on his hair.


He woke in a grey-green disinfectant atmosphere, with the worst hangover of his life. Stuart was white and disinfectant flavoured. And bleary eyed as he bent and kissed Adam gently on the mouth.
"Hey, sweetheart. You're at St. Michael's, don't panic."
Adam closed his eyes. Stuart leaned on the edge of the bed and smoothed his hair. "How long did it last?"
"Four hours on and off. You had seven in a row, one after the other, they couldn't bring you out of it."
The voice was familiar but Adam couldn't follow the words. He was used to the confusion: segments of his brain still out of action, but he was aware of pain as he struggled through his faculties, searching feverishly for damage. Blanks. His head was full of blanks. Stuart pressed his cheek against his.
"Stop it, you're all right. I've got you, you were breathing all the time, you're okay."
He hung on to Stuart's powerful hand. A trolley clanked somewhere in the distance. Lights buzzed, quiet but painful.
"Is this casualty?"
"A ward," Stuart said quietly. "You were admitted about two am . They want some scans."
"CT," Adam said deadly.
"Yes. They rang your consultant last night. He's coming in this afternoon to see you."
He drifted into sleep again. Stuart stroked him, avoiding the bruises around his mouth. Adam had broken a tooth this time; there had been blood everywhere. The nurses kept offering tea, suggesting he went home, but he was too afraid Adam would have another fit, and irrationally afraid no one would notice. Adam slept uneasily, waking at intervals, as usual with a splitting headache and desperately thirsty, but he was groggy which was not at all usual. Stuart held the glass for him, feeding him water since anything else stung the cuts in his mouth. He'd lost all his co ordination. Nurses came in and out. Stuart begged and got pain relief for the headache, and then had a further battle to convince them Adam really couldn't swallow tablets. By the time they brought a hypodermic, Adam was asleep again, still scowling with pain.  
He slept all that day. Sara arrived in the late afternoon in response to the message he had left on her answerphone hours before. Stuart heard her voice in the hallway, talking to the nurse at the reception desk, and went to the doorway with grim annoyance but a sense of duty towards Adam. She froze at the sight of him, looked up at him and then abruptly reached to get both arms around his neck.
"You look dreadful, boy."
He was surprised how much he needed the hug. "That's what he said."
"How is he?"
"Asleep," Stuart said warily. "He had seven almighty fits in a row. They couldn't bring him round. They did blood tests and some scans last night; they've got him scheduled for more tomorrow. They think he's got some sort of virus- they said at one point these were febrile fits. I told them I'd always know if he had a temperature, never mind one high enough to make him fit, but what do I know? I only live with him."
 "What do you think?" Sara said without looking at him. Stuart shrugged.
"There must be some reason this has happened. I'm trying not to, but I keep thinking tumours- diabetes- something to cause this, I wouldn't be so scared if there was a reason I knew-"
Sara shook her head impatiently. "No. This has happened before. He had an awful patch when he was little and another one at fifteen, there was a whole year where he didn't go to school."
She was shaking. Like Adam, her accent deepened when she was upset. Stuart found her hands and tried to comfort himself as well as her.
"He's not ill. I can't see anything wrong apart from the fits themselves. They keep changing his drugs which can't be helping-"
"I ought to call home." Sara drew back and wiped her eyes. "Is there a phone here?"
"Damn-" It hit Stuart like a fist. "I didn't call into work, they'll be wondering why I didn't show up."
"You'll be lucky to have a job to go to if you don't start turning up soon. Go and phone. I'll wait with him."
Stuart opened the door into Adam's room and watched her go to lean on the bars the ward staff insisted had to stay up.
Adam was holding her hand when he came back. Adam was still asleep, very pale and breathing heavily. Sara looked worried from the low chair she was trying to get comfortable on.
"He's awfully confused."
"He always is after a fit. Imagine what seven must be like."
"He knew who I was but he was ever so shaky. He kept asking where you were, I don't think he really knew what was happening."
Adam stirred and muttered something. Sara leant on the bars and spoke to him. Stuart waited, not wanting to interfere, until he heard Adam's voice start to rise.
"Stu? STU -"
"Hey. I'm here, go back to sleep." Stuart moved to get hold of Adam's hand and Adam's fingers closed tight on his. His eyes hadn't opened.
Sara pushed a long strand of dark hair behind one ear, making her narrow face even bonier. "I'd better call the tribe."
Oh God. Stuart tried to find some way to salvage the situation and met the full Sara Scowl. Any hint of friendliness was gone, the slight bond they'd formed in the corridor had been instantly shattered by the person they were connected by. Stuart cleared his throat.
"Is there really any point in worrying them until he's had this scan?"
"They'd want to know." Sara leaned on the doorpost. "Adam started fitting when he was two months old. Ianto told me once. I was screaming the place down, my father came to pick me up and found Adam in a seizure. We've always been the ones who've looked after him."
Stuart swallowed the implications and tried to deflect them. "Must have been hard for your mother to leave you two, with Adam on all the drugs."
"I don't think she gave it a second thought," Sara said dryly. "Neither of us missed her. We were all right. We had each other, see."
She went to ring them. Their precious brothers, somewhere in Wales .
Continue on to Part 6 of Blood on the Mountain
Copyright Ranger 2010

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